Pruitt Defends Tar Creek Audit Move as Scandal Hits National Media

“Pruitt should have to be held accountable for this.” Daniel Stevens

The story of the decision by Scott Pruitt before he took over the EPA, then his successor in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, Mike Hunter, to withhold an audit critical of the multi-million dollar buyout of homes at the Tar Creek Superfund site has finally attracted national attention.

The growing controversy over why the audit that suggests criminal wrongdoing involving a state Trust Overseeing millions in federal funds remains a secret was written about this week in Washington D.C.’s “Politico” news website. It came a week after the filing of a lawsuit by the Washington, D.C. nonprofit the Campaign for Accountability against the state attorney general and state auditor for not releasing the detailed audit of the buyout.

Under the headline, “The Environmental Scandal in Scott Pruitt’s Backyard,” the lengthy story describes to national readers of what led to the declaration of the Tar Creek Superfund Site.

It suggests a revelation of the audit might prove to be embarrassing to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe who endorsed the plan of creating a trust to oversee the purchases of homes and businesses in the toxic region. Politico pointed out that Inhofe and Pruitt are friends and there’s political speculation that Pruitt might consider a run in 2020 for Inhofe’s U.S. Senate seat should Inhofe decided not to seek re-election.

The lawsuit makes it clear what officials at the Campaign for Accountability think of actions by Pruitt and Hunter.

“If you take a look at Scott Pruitt’s record, you see a general disregard for transparency,” said Daniel Stevens, the group’s executive director. “I don’t think it’s outside our bounds to say that Pruitt is trying to hide evidence of criminal wrongdoing.”

Interviewed by Politico, Pruitt defended his action to withhold the audit, explaining he determined criminal charges were not necessary.

“I know the decision I made at that time was based upon the investigative audit. The investigative audit didn’t yield anything to the grand jury, and, as such, it was important to protect the individuals’ reputation that were in that investigation.”

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